College Basketball Drop’s the Ball

FBI Charges College Basketball Coaches on Corruption Charges

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim, second from right, and FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, Jr., right, hold a press conference to announce the arrest of assistant college basketball coaches on federal corruption charges, Tuesday Sept. 26, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

College Basketball Programs Recruiting Once Again Under Spotlight Amidst New Scandal

The integrity of  college basketball is under massive scrutiny after the FBI released news on its’ ongoing probe into the sport. The allegations are related to some of college basketball’s most prominent programs, which puts the entire sport under scope. The investigation highlights college basketball coaches that were being bribed to steer players toward certain schools and advisors, while shoe companies were making payments to high school athletes to influence their school decisions as well. Shoe companies were swaying these athletes with the intention that this relationship between the athlete and the shoe brand would remain faithful once a player leaves school for the pros, where the companies would then reap large rewards.

Notable names encompassed in the scandal include:

  • USC assistant coach, Tony Bland – Accused of bribery in the form of wire payments to two current players. (Suspended)
  • Oklahoma State assistant coach, Lamont Evans – Accused of accepting bribe money to sway athletes’ interests (Fired)
  • Louisville head coach, Rick Pitino – Placed on unpaid leave, with many believing his firing is inevitable due to his role in the ongoing recruiting scandal
  • Alabama basketball administrator, Kobie Baker – Resigned from his position after the university’s athletic director announced the launch of an in-house investigation.
  • Arizona assistant coach, Emanual Richardson – Accused of bribing a player with money to come to the university
  • Adidas’ director of global sports marketing, Jim Gatto – Accused of paying athletes to join and play for schools that were sponsored by Adidas
  • Financial advisers, Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood – Accused of helping Gatto funnel money to the families of those recruits bribed to play for adidas-affiliated universities

College basketball is used to being under the investigative spotlight. Just last year, Rick Pitino and Louisville were publicly scrutinized for its’ allegations into the program’s sex scandal that involved bribing recruits. The University of North Carolina has been the subject of a three-year academic scandal that discovered student-athletes were getting unreasonable aid from tutors and receiving credits for classes they never attended. The punishments for these universities hasn’t been very clear. Now, with the NCAA having no prior knowledge of the FBI’s current investigation, we can expect the sanctions to be public and vivid, rather than getting swept under the rug similar to the previously internal NCAA basketball investigations.